Last Saturday I bought 3 Heathers. I left home with no intention of buying any plants at all.
And it's all because months ago I gave away the sad Blueberry bushes to my Sis-in-Law and BiL and also passed on a quarter of a bag of Ericasious compost. Later I remembered it was meant to be used to refresh the huge pot which holds my Camellia.
So off I go to buy a new bag of compost, they are quite big, which meant I would again be left with some in the bag sitting in the greenhouse but while at the garden centre I noticed their collections of Heathers, which also need Ericasious..........a colourful way to cheer up the winter patio and use some more compost I thought, but they were in packs of 6 and quite expensive, so I left them.
Information about the dyes used is difficult to obtain, apart from the general assertion that they are "food dyes".
To be effective, the dye has to be sprayed all over the heather. This treatment cannot be good for a living plant. Any plants I have purchased have been dead within a short time. The dyes are undoubtedly harmful to the plants by inhibiting photosynthesis and transpiration.
"Painted" heathers need the same growing conditions that all Calluna cultivars require: lime-free, moist soil and full sunlight. They are frost-hardy.
These artificially dyed plants are not indoor plants - they should be grown outdoors either planted in a container (tub, window-box) or into a flower-bed. However the garish colours are not appropriate for most garden situations.
What happens next? Providing the heather is alive and lives, new shoots should appear in spring. These will not be coated with the dye so they should be green (or turn green). Gradually the dyed foliage should be shed and a fully green plant will gradually develop.
In short, "painted" or "dyed" heathers are as artificial as plastic flowers - heather enthusiasts should not be tempted to waste money on them.
So I've got 1 real and 2 fake! and all because I gave away a quarter of a bag of compost!!
Although they look quite good when viewed from the kitchen window.